Serves 4

There has always been some confusion as to the origin of the Pavlova. The Australians claim it was created in 1935 by Herbert Sachse, head chef of the Esplanade Hotel in Perth, and named after the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured New Zealand and Australia in 1926. A contemporary Australian author conceded that the actual dish had made a prior appearance in New Zealand as early as 1919, but suggested it was named in Australia. It all sounds a bit of a palaver to me for a meringue nest filled with cream and fruit, but Pavlova does have a better ring to it.

An important note on making meringue: the bowl and whisk must be absolutely clean as the slightest evidence of fat will prevent the whites from whipping to a stiff consistency. Clean your bowl and whisk with boiling water and washing detergent and rinse well before making meringue.

for the meringue

3 egg whites
100g caster sugar
1tsp cornflour
1tsp white wine vinegar

to serve

200ml double cream
A few drops of good quality vanilla essence
1tbsp caster sugar
200-250g mixed berries - the best and ripest you can find

Pre-heat the oven to 120°C/gas mark 1. In a mixing machine with a whisk attachment or by hand (though this will take a while), whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the caster sugar and continue whisking until they are really stiff and shiny. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk again for about 30 seconds. Spoon the mixture on to a clean baking tray, lined with silicone or greaseproof paper, into 4 round domes, making an indentation with the back of the spoon in the middle of each. Alternatively make one big meringue.

Cook in the oven for 1 12 hours so the meringue is crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, but don't let the outside colour - you want it nice and white. You may need to cook it a little longer depending on your oven. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla essence. To serve, hollow out the meringues by carefully pushing the centre in with the back of a spoon to make room for the cream. Fill the cavity with cream and scatter over the berries. If you like, blend some of the berries to make a sauce to drizzle over.